We were having lunch in Queens and the waiter asked what brought us there. When we said that we had just visited Steinway&Sons, he was more than surprised. Steinway, here? The pianos? In Queens? It’s not known by many, but yes indeed, the famous pianos are made in New York City.
Entering the Steinway&Sons headquarters is like entering a temple. And that is not because of the entrance hall, which is rather humble and, I can imagine for some, even a little bit disappointing. But Steinway is not at all about ‘façade’. It’s about music.
Music is an art. And so is the craft that precedes it.
Welcomed by a senior employee, our little group was more than anxious to finally cross the threshold of the mythical piano factory. Our guide took us through the innumerable steps of the piano making, passion radiating from his face.
Most of the pianos are pre-ordered. Not rarely is it custom-made for one particular pianist. And therefore the pianist will be involved in the whole process of the instrument making.
An artist has specific needs or wishes in terms of how he wants his piano to be. If you want a diamond-studded lid, you got it! Or a rather unconventional color, no problem! But the pianist will also have a final say in the acoustic qualities of the instrument, the color of its sound. Here, the highly qualified people of Steinway&Sons play a crucial role. They are the ones who will make the piano sound as they want, and as the client wishes.
The first and probably most important step is choosing perfect wood. Followed by a meticulous process of bending, gluing, drying, shaping, tuning, the fining of the hammer mechanism…until perfection is reached. It’s craft, pure skill and feeling.
The people at Steinway&Sons are extremely skilled. Each one of them is specialized in one particular step of the process. In many cases that one person is the sole specialist for that precise job. He starts at the bottom, like everybody else, goes through different stages, to finally become the irreplaceable expert in his domaine.
Their responsibility is twofold. They have to craft perfect pianos with a tailor-made sound. At the same time they have to train the next generation of piano builders in order to ensure the future of Steinway&Sons, and above all, its reputation. A quite heavy responsibility that is!
Steinway&Sons is a top 3 Forbes rated factory tour in the States. Restricted group tour only on Tuesday mornings, not during summer months, strictly with reservation, and well in advance! firstname.lastname@example.org